According to DOJ, a woman invited her family to the wedding, but they objected and kidnapped her instead.
She was tricked into going to Yemen and was beaten and threatened by her father, according to court filings.
Her father and brother tried to arrange a forced marriage for her in exchange for $500,000.
“You are no longer in the West, you are in the Middle East. Women like you are being killed,” Khaled Abganem told his daughter, according to the Justice Department.
An American woman who was about to celebrate her wedding in Mexico invited her family to a ceremony in Guadalajara last September. conspired to kidnap her in order to marry someone from
An unnamed victim, according to DOJ statement She remained in Yemen “under the supervision of two brothers” and was tricked by her family to leave Mexico and return to the United States. There her father promised to help her marry her fiancée whom she knew when she was nearly nine years old. Year.
Instead, court filings argue, Her family tried to coerce her fiancé into paying a $30,000 dowry for the marriage, but after the woman intervened, her father pulled her out of the 12th floor of the hotel where they were staying. threatened to kick me out. The next day, the elder Abganem changed his mind and signed a “gentleman’s agreement” with his daughter’s fiancé, agreeing to support their union if he could host a party and ceremony in the United States.
The woman agreed.
When she returned to America, she was confined to her family’s home, was under constant surveillance, and could not even use the bathroom with privacy. , expelled her from classes at the University of Buffalo and deleted her social media accounts. She was then forced to take a flight to Egypt, where her family planned to arrange her marriage to an undecided man in Egypt or Yemen in exchange for $500,000.
“Victims were told that if they did not comply with and agree to an arranged marriage, they would be confined to their homes with no contact with the outside world and their fiancés, whom their families disapproved of, would be killed,” the Justice Department read. . statement Regarding the case.
Kidnapping charges against Khaled and Waleed Abughanem, the father and brother of the woman currently in custody, are pending. A detention hearing for the two men, scheduled for February 17, has been postponed until March 2.
“Walid Abghanem denies any allegations of criminal or wrongdoing.” buffalo news Federal public defender Frank Passafium said of the charges against his client, according to reports. “From next week’s hearing, we will establish his name and undo the damage often caused by the government’s over-involvement in our private lives and disregard for cultural diversity.”
Representatives for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York and attorneys for Khaled and Waleed Abughanem did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. It is unclear whether the woman’s mother will be charged with involvement in her daughter’s detention in Yemen.
“My biggest mistake was keeping you alive”
difference from arranged marriage — common cultural practices in countries such as India, Japan, and China — and forced marriage It is believed to be the difference between consent and coercion, according to the nonprofit Unchained At Last, which is trying to end forced and child marriage in the United States.
While both the bride and groom may agree to arrange the marriage due to cultural factors, forced marriages can be the result of victims being deceived, blackmailed, or abused until they comply. There is a possibility
“But there is a fine line between consent and coercion.” Unchained at Last“Even if marriage is labeled as ‘omiai’ and the bride and groom are given the option to say no, they may face strong family and social pressure not to do so, and young You may be too inexperienced to live that kind of life. – change the decision
Exact statistics on those who married illegally are unknown, as little research has been done on forced marriage abuse in the United States.
In forced marriages honor and virginity are often of paramount importance to the family arranging the marriage. A non-virgin woman is seen as bringing dishonor to the family and may be killed to restore the family’s honor. Arab Weekly.
A woman detained in Yemen may have undergone a virginity test performed by her mother, according to court documents.
According to court documents, his brother Abghanem emailed his father, saying, “Abu Walid, that’s a shame…she’s my sister.” “And I will not allow anyone to dishonor us…it will be on my corpse.”
of United Nations Population Fund estimates that as many as 5,000 women are killed for honor every year around the world.
According to court documents, the woman is still being held in Yemen, but is receiving assistance through an unnamed non-profit organization. According to U.S. Customs records, the woman’s fiancée’s testimony, and filings that referenced text messages between Khaled and Waleed Abganem, she was pushed down a flight of stairs, whipped with a belt, and severely strangled by her father. It is said that A secret email sent by the woman herself.
“Victim 1 believes she only survived the assault through her mother’s intervention,” the court filing reads, as her father allegedly told her. keep you alive ”
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